Burnett’s Gin is another gin with a long origin story. The date of “1770” when it was purported to have been established— second only to Gordon’s date of 1769— far pre-dates other 19th century stalwarts such as Tanqueray.
But Sir Robert Burnett, the name behind Burnett’s Gin perhaps moreso than other distillers of the time, has spawned more specious backstories and romantic nonsense.
The real Robert Burnitt began his career as a corn salesman in London during the early 1760s. Corn, especially low-grade corn that could not be sold at full price— was a popular commodity among brewers and distillers of London. So it’s unsurprising that two men who were neighbors in complimentary industries as seen in the 1768 London Directory on Horseflydown-Lane would later become partners.
Little is said about when and if Robert Burnett created his eponymous gin in 1770. But we do know that the two went into business together by 1779 and were running the Vauxhall distillery that Burnett’s Gin was known to have been produced out of.
They partnered together at the Vauxhall distillery through the 1780’s. Between 1786 and 1787 the distillery’s primary ownership changed and it officially became Burnett and Co.
In short, we do know for sure that Robert Burnett was a distiller in the 1780’s and the partnership that founded the distillery began in the 1760’s and 1770’s in Southwark. In short, while I can’t verify the date 1770 without a doubt, it seems probably the he had both grain and access to a distillery at the time Burnett’s Gin was said to have been created.
Today Robert’s creation is produced by Heaven Hill Distillery in Kentucky and has a reputation for being somewhat of an inexpensive gin. Despite being in bright green bottles, they’re usually plastic— a bottle of Burnett’s Gin often costs around 7 or 8 dollars.
It’s currently distilled from “100% Grain Neutral Spirit,” with no mention of the corn that the original likely began as. Additionally, Burnett’s Gin also says “London Dry Gin” on the bottle, which suggests that although inexpensive, the juniper and botanical flavor was imparted through distillation, not compounded or flavored by essences.
Burnett’s Gin has lots of juniper on the nose, with a touch of angelica-like musk a hint of citrus and cassia. It’s very classic. Lots of aroma, very little ethanol. It has an aroma that you might not normally expect at this price point.
A bit light at first, Burnett’s flavor is primarily concentrated in its mid-notes. Burnett’s Gin is slightly more citrusy than I might have expected. There’s lots of traditional pine-forward juniper, mixed with lemon and orange rind— especially as the pine notes fade. Clean, classic gin spice add color and depth. But then it burns out rather quickly.
The finish is a bit abrasive with a touch of heat and some ethanol bitterness. The spirit itself is a bit thin and lacks texture or oiliness. It slides off the palate rather quickly.
Burnett’s makes a solid party mixing gin. Good in a Gin and Tonic, especially with supermarket or inexpensive tonic waters, it’s a solid choice for Gin and Juice or any other mixed drink you want to put together. The juniper notes come through when mixed.
It doesn’t have a ton of depth. Burnett’s Gin is not a best choice for gin-forward cocktails, owing mostly to its underwhelming texture and lack of depth in flavor. It can be augmented when paired with bolder cocktail ingredients. Perhaps best used as an inexpensive gin for adding a juniper note, rather than the star of a cocktail. But I was surprised at how Burnett’s worked even in these applications. Though I wouldn’t suggest a Martini with it, it is perfectly acceptable in a Negroni or the like.
Burnett’s Gin is a solid gin at it’s under $20 price point. If you’re looking for a quick gin fix or handle for your next party, Burnett’s is definitely among the best among a lot of underwhelming options. This gin impressed me relative to expectations. Certainly, it does have its shortcomings: flavor depth, ethanol bitterness on finish— it’s hard to do better when you spend $7 on 750 mL of gin.
Recommended at its price point.